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THE STORY OF THE CARTERS
RAVEN’S ROOST RANCH
WHITE RAVEN BOLOGNESE
Welcome to White Raven Bolognese and the world of the magical Bolo. Anyone who has the good fortune to live with a Bolognese will acknowledge that the breed has introduced an element of magic, a warm and lively ambience, into the household.
Our kennel is located on 40 acres of woods in the Suwannee River Valley of Northern Florida. We have a herd of dairy goats, a dozen water buffalo, and an assortment of other barnyard creatures. Chickens, ducks, and guinea fowl roam free-range, wherever they choose, following one another like the proverbial Pied Piper. Our Great Pyrenees and Blue Heeler are guardians in charge of the outside animals. Our collection of Bolognese are the pampered pooches who oversee all who dwell within the household.
The herd Mother
Some of our 40 goats
Running a-fowl; Sassy's in control
Dracula, the family raccoon, with his favorite toothbrush to keep his fangs sparkling!
To introduce you to our family and our world I need to go back in time. Not to the beginning, for I would not know how to unravel the gossamer threads that weave together a family story. But, back a few years more than a decade. My close relationship with the Maya introduced me to the strong connection they associated between food and ceremony. In fact, food was ceremony. There was no separation between the two. I began to wonder how contemplative communities in our own country honored the relationship between bodily and spiritual sustenance.
Cherry hiking through the Mayan jungle to Acabchen
Cherry's Mayan cookbook
In order to research the topic, I needed to travel. I bought a motor home, an older model with lots of character. It had a distinctive round portal that decorated the door. The Huichol Indians of Mexico consider a small round window to be a magical entrance into another reality, a different dimension. They call this portal or window the Nierika. And so, I named my motor home Nierika, with the hope that she would introduce me to new insights and modes of thinking. I did not travel alone.
Sascha guarding over her castle NIERIKA
Because the Bolognese is a rare dog breed and not introduced into the United States until the 1980’s, many aficionados of small white canines began their love affair with the Maltese. Mine was a beloved companion named Sascha, a tiny 5 pound bundle of joy who traveled with me on many journeys to Mexico and served as Co-Pilot and caretaker of the Siamese cats, Haiku and Saki, when we traveled the country in Nierika. We spent a year visiting monastic and spiritual communities from many traditions. The nomadic life was addictive; traveling on land opened up new worlds and horizons. Nierika took us from the oceans of the Atlantic to the Pacific, often resting in a park where sea breezes and gentle waves lapped upon the shore.
I decided to succumb to the dreams of blue water and purchased a sailboat. Sascha was my First Mate as we pulled into the Fort Pierce City Marina on Florida’s Treasure Coast. She had her own little harness and life jacket, even though she was not allowed to roam topside unattended. The City Marina became our new home and we settled into a fascinating life on the dock, a world of constant movement, activity and the coming and going of intriguing people.
Little Sascha with her red life jacket
The figurehead on our sailboat is the Greek Goddess of the Animals, Callisto
Our sailboat, Callisto Within a few short weeks we were introduced to Jimmy Carter, a modern-day Robinson Crusoe who lived just a hop and a skip away on an adjacent dock. Jimmy is an artist and could often be found somewhere in the marina painting the pelicans and other aquatic scenes. Because Jimmy was a collector of animals, I never knew what he was going to bring home. One day it was a baby possum that grew into a big possum. On another occasion it was a box of tiny iguanas. One of his triumphs was the rescue of an injured pelican that sustained a fishhook injury on his beak.
Sammy the Pelican
Opie the opossum
Pema Chodron, the head of a Buddhist monastery in Nova Scotia, authored an interesting book I had just purchased. As I perused the pages I came upon a passage that described a flock of ravens as they played and frolicked in a brutal Nor’easter storm.
"The animals and the plants here on Cape Breton are hardy and
fearless and playful and joyful. The wilder the weather is, the more the
ravens love it. They have the time of their lives in the winter, when
the wind gets much stronger and there's lots of ice and snow. They
challenge the wind. They get up on the tops of the trees and hold on
with their claws and then they grab on with their beaks as well. At some
point they just let go into the wind and let it blow them away. Then
they play on it, float in it. After a while, they'll go back to the tree
and start over. It's a game. Once I saw them in an incredible
hurricane-velocity wind, grabbing each other's feet and dropping and
then letting go and flying out. It was like a circus act. They have had
to develop a zest for challenge and for life. As you can see, it adds up
to tremendous beauty and inspiration. The same goes for us".
I ran to find Jimmy, excitedly explaining that the raven story had described in perfect detail his personality and way of dealing with life. “You are a Raven,” I told him. And so, quite appropriately, Jimmy named his own sailboat, The Raven.
Eventually, we had a wedding at the marina and combined our two households.
Dockside wedding at the marina with Matey and Palu as "Best Birds" -- note the tiny black bow ties As more animals were added to the Carter family, our boat became somewhat crowded. Parrot cages filled the cockpit and cabin, munching on their ‘birdie salad’, nuts and seeds. Iguanas lived topside, feasting on bananas, hibiscus blossoms and goat cheese. Our two Siamese cats and Sascha, for safety reasons, were confined to the cabin. We decided to hang up the anchor and become dirt dwellers so our animals would have more room -- and we would, too.
Iggie feasting on his daily breakfast of hibiscus flowers and goat cheese
Our Lori, Minky
The ring-bearer in our wedding
Our Quaker, Panucho, enjoying his salad
Our Macaw, Palu
Our Umbrella Cockatoo, Shogi
. . . . and others!
On a trip to northern Florida a beautiful oak and pine forest beckoned to us. Located in the middle of the agricultural and dairy belt of the Sunshine State, it offered plenty of room for our household animals, as well as acreage for gardens and pasture for future barnyard dwellers. We decided to name our new home Raven’s Roost Ranch and Retreat.
Our land would be a haven for any wild animals who might decide to pay us a visit, as well as the domesticated creatures we intended to acquire in the future. We could learn, we mused, to adopt the self-sustaining lifestyle that held such an appeal for us, a residual dream left over from our former lives as nomads and sailors. Providing a large portion of our own healthy food seemed like an achievable goal, one we were anxious to learn how to pursue. And so, we settled into the land, designed and built a house, and worked to regain some of the skills that often become lost as mankind moves from country to city.
As the years passed, our Sascha passed, too. It took a long while before I could even consider the thought of another little white dog. Eventually, the wounds soften and the heart opens. I wanted another little white dog that would be a constant companion. My research revealed that there were several Bichon breeds, in addition to the Maltese, that might be considered. After comparing the characteristics, one to another, I became enamored by the Bolognese. They seemed unique in the dog world, tiny packages filled with love and joie de vive. I was tempted by breeders who offered the possibility of a puppy, but all of the kennels were located many hundreds of miles away. My needs were more immediate. When an ad for a tiny Maltese appeared in the local paper, I jumped at the opportunity to acquire another baby to honor the memory of Sascha.
We named her Mischa.
But . . . . the heart and soul kept thinking. I kept going back to the thought of a Bolognese and their amazing qualities. I knew that a Bolo would be the perfect companion for Mischa, as well as for us, and decided to make additional inquiries. My search revealed a website for the breed that displayed a photo with 6 puppies available. All of them beckoned to me with their black button eyes and endearing expressions. Yet, I fiddled and waited. When I returned to the website, there were only 4 puppies available. I still hesitated. Then the afternoon came when a bolt hit like a strike of lightning -- there was only one puppy left. And it was a girl. She spoke to me with her heart.
I jumped as fast as a wild possum pounces on a chicken. Within hours the details were over and the schedule was set. It was a Tuesday and our puppy could be shipped out from Salt Lake City on Thursday morning. We could pick her up at the Jacksonville airport by Thursday evening. Because we had just returned from a trip to Scotland we decided to name our Bolo Child Paisley, in honor of our Scottish ancestors.
It was a long 15 hour ride for this tiny 8-week old puppy to cross the breadth of the country to get to us . . . and just an hour and a half for us to get to her. I woke up early Thursday morning to trace her every move . . . well, let’s see, by now her plane must be over the Midwest. Now it’s afternoon and she is scheduled to land in Atlanta . . . and so on. Evening approached. Overflowing with enthusiasm, we arrived at the airport an hour before Paisley’s flight was scheduled to arrive. At long last the cargo supervisor advised us that her plane had just landed, but mentioned there would be another 60 minute wait. The crew needed time to transport her to a pick-up area where a shuttle would retrieve her kennel and deliver her to us. I fiddled and fidgeted for another hour. At long last, the supervisor disappeared into the cavern of a side door and emerged with a small carrier. Paisley had finally arrived and he handed her to us with a smile. We had been concerned that our new baby would arrive weary and exhausted, thoroughly traumatized by the stress of sky travel, new faces and airport shuttles. Paisley was destined to surprise us. She literally jumped from her travel crate and into our arms, without the slightest hint of hesitation or caution.
The return to Live Oak was filled with kisses and snuggles as Paisley let us know she was tired of airline travel and ready for a car ride to her new home. We were anxious to see her reaction when we walked in the front door and set her down on the floor. She immediately noticed a puppy toy on the floor and began to play and cavort with it, as if she had always been a part of the family and the stuffed animal was an old friend to pick up and enjoy.
We gave our new girl a day to rest before packing her up for another ride, this time a trip to south Florida. Jimmy and I had the good fortune to be attending an art show in Naples, Florida, helping my brother with his jewelry booth. Paisley had the job of charming the curious customers who passed by. She sat dutifully in her little folding chair, snoozed, and allowed us to show her off to the crowd of onlookers.
Baby Paisley at the Naples Art Show in her little sling chair Because most people are strangers to the charms of the Bolognese, we took advantage of the opportunity to discuss the stellar attributes of the breed. On the second day when afternoon shadows began to lengthen as a signal the show was over, fellow artists crowded around to offer their goodbyes. The salutations were not really for us, but were directed at our little puppy Paisley. She was, after all, the Good-Will-Ambassador who had snuggled her way into everyone’s heart. Like a tiny Empress with adoring fans, she acknowledged the waves and calls of those lining the path of our exit. A chorus of voices called out, “Goodbye, Paisley.” She calmly basked in the interest and attention of onlookers. We learned very quickly that the Bolognese is definitely a “go with” kind of dog who does not mind a bit of travel or even a long trip, as long as it can be a part of the family.
Baby Paisley charms her adoring fans
Jimmy and I were completely entranced with the breed and soon began the search for a second Bolo to keep Paisley and Mischa company. Just as it is impossible to take just one peanut or potato chip -- we found we could not stop at just one Bolo. The decision to be a part of the Bolognese breeding community was just a step away and the idea for White Raven Bolognese
began to take form. We researched and read, made inquiries and began a long wait. It was important that our breeding stock came only from kennels dedicated to nurturing the modern Bolognese back to the glory of the Renaissance. Building our kennel was a process that took time and the nurturing of relationships, but we feel we have garnered a selection of breeding stock that represents the crème de la crème of the Bolognese today.
We have five Bolognese dams and two sires, as well as 2 baby girls and a boy that we retained from our first litters. Each of them is unique and gifted with the stellar qualities we want to pass on to future generations of the breed. We have found that puppies have a tendency to inherit certain antics and personality traits, as well as the physical aspects of the parents. This was a rewarding and somewhat surprising discovery, creating a feeling of deja-vue when witnessing the actions and expressions of the offspring.